The List
7 Strangest Harem Set Ups

by Lynzee Loveridge,

The harem genre isn't going anywhere anytime soon. As long as customers are interested in one protagonist surrounded by adoring romantic interests, we'll continue to see at least two or three shows every season. The hard part is creating new and interesting ways to set up each harem scenario. The market has seen plenty of "guy transfers into recent co-ed school" and "magical girlfriend falls from the sky." Not all set ups work out smoothly and some even fall into strange, convoluted, or downright ridiculous territory. Also: Spoilers for We, Without Wings.

7. My Bride is a Mermaid My Bride is a Mermaid combines two common genres: comedic yakuza (see Nisekoi for the most recent example) and magical girlfriend. In this case, said magical girlfriend is a mermaid mafia heir. All of hapless Nagasumi's other love interests are equally strange: an idol singer mermaid, overbearing classmate Mawari, and an otherwise nameless girl with a split persona,

6. Recently, my sister is unusual. It might be too soon to put Recently, my sister is unusual. any higher on The List right now, but the first episode set up is enough to warrant a mention. Riding on the wave of "incest but not really" romantic comedy anime, ImoCho. follows new stepsister Mitsuki after she's possessed by a wayward spirit, Hiyori. Hiyori equips Mitsuki with a chastity belt that transfers any romantic and/or sexy feelings for her brother into "stairs" to heaven. Basically the only way to exorcise the spirit from Mitsuki is for her to come on to her stepbrother as much as possible. I guess the Catholic church wasn't an option in this case.

5. The World God Only Knows Keima of Kaminomi is smart guy but otherwise off-putting in real life, instead opting to master the 2D girls in dating sims. Setting up a nerdy guy with a bunch of inexplicably attractive girls isn't anything new, but what if all the girls are possessed by demons? The comedic series work as a sort of Ah! My Goddess but with demons meets Doki Doki Majo Shinpan!

4. Miracle Train - Ōedo-sen e Yōkoso Reverse harems are not exempt from weird harem settings, with one of the strangest involving anthropomorphisized trains. The whole idea started to sell, of course, train tickets. Japan Railways decided to "moe-ify" its different train lines and followed it up with an online manga. The anime introduced the idea as a sort of mysterious train filled with gorgeous guys (with predictable personalities) that you could only find by accident. The execution is pretty generic and the show is only slightly less odd than our top "objects turned into people" entry.

3. We Without Wings - Under the Innocent Sky I can't talk about why We, Without Wings made the list without getting heavy into spoilers, so consider yourself warned. First, the show's cast is pretty large and it initially seems to have a KimiKiss set up: three male protagonists, each with a love triangle. As it turns out the show decides to justify its giant harem by having one male lead suffering from disassociative identity disorder and a bunch of delusions about coming from a magical world. The guy basically never sleeps, instead switching over from one persona to the next depending on the time of day.

2. Is This a Zombie? It's hard to keep all the weird plot points in Is This a Zombie? straight. Ayumu is a regular guy who is murdered, then resurrected by a mute necromancer, and absorbs the powers of a not-so-average magical girl. So now Ayumu transforms into an outfit reminiscent of Card Captor Sakura and shacks up with aforementioned Necromancer and attracting a bevy of vampire ninjas while hunting down his murderer.

1. Akikan! Akikan! is a harem anime about discrimination and carbonated beverages. The two factions, aluminium and steel, are in a government-sponsored war to prove which is best. The fighters? Drink cans that turn into girls when you give them CO^2! Kakeru, a guy who was just thirsty at the wrong time, ends up the master of Melon, and encountering Grape, Yell (a sports drink), and Miku (a mixed juice). The show if like a sadder version of Sekirei, if you can imagine that.

The new poll: What's your favorite robot sidekick?

The old poll: Last week's poll asked Here's the full results (anything under 1% was omitted):

  1. Nyaruko (Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!) 17.5%
  2. Popura Taneshima (Wagnaria!!) 14.5%
  3. Chihiro Kosaka (The World God Only Knows) 13.9%
  4. Yuno (Hidamari Sketch) 11.3%
  5. Kiyal (Gurren Lagann) 8.4%
  6. Komari Koshigaya (Non Non Biyori) 4.9%
  7. Ran (Shugo Chara!) 4.8%
  8. Strength (Black Rock Shooter) 4.3%
  9. Blanc/White Heart (Hyperdimension Neptunia) 4.2%
  10. Toto (Magi) 2.9%
  11. Frey (Unbreakable Machine-Doll) 2.8%
  12. Marika Tachibana (Nisekoi) 2.3%
  13. Honoka (Maid Sama!) 2.3%
  14. Other (Answer in the forums) 1.4%
  15. Madoka Harumi (Dog & Scissors) 1.3%
  16. Fumi Hibino (Hayate the Combat Butler) 1.3%
  17. Touko Hio (Witch Craft Works) 1.0%

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as Associate Editor for Anime News Network, blogs about women and LBGT topics in anime and manga on her blog Engendered Dilemma, and posts pictures of her son on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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